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“Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim” opened last weekend at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (on view through September 9). The exhibition consists of over 100 works and delves into the thematic storytelling behind the museum’s contemporary collection. Spanning multiple mediums, the show’s theme follows the narrative of each work’s creation, with 48 writers penning responses to individual pieces within the exhibit. “When the curators were looking at the museum’s collection there were threads of narration that embody all the chosen work,” said Nat Trotman, Associate Curator.
The exhibition strays away from historical succession, and focuses more on the artist’s stories. Deputy Director Nancy Spector noted that “Storylines” starts with a paradigm shift in the 1990s; where artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Matthew Barney , Catherine Opie, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres embraced intimate storytelling within their practice. Their groundbreaking work brought narrative art back into popularity for a younger generation of artists that make up a large part of this exhibit, exploring similar subthemes of identity, sexuality, race, and politics can be found throughout.
Cattelan’s Daddy Daddy (2008) is the first work viewers will encounter, a face-down Pinocchio floating in a pool of water. Nearby, circling the ground-floor on Monday evenings (June 8–September 7, 5:45–10 pm) is a performance by Gerard & Kelly called Timelining. Both performers recite fragments of memory to another; they reveal intimate memories and historic moments that evoke a collective memory. “Obamacare, in front of watching you grow your hair long, in front of, I learned where Syria is…” They engage with the audience and may circle around you, inviting you to jump right into their game of memory. Other performance events that “Storylines” will include are An Evening with Kevin An Evening with Kevin Beasley (Friday, June 26, 8 pm) , Ellie Ga’s Eureka, a lighthouse play and The Fortunetellers (Tuesday, June 30, 6:30 pm in the Peter B. Lewis Theater) , and Agathe Snow: Stamina (Thursday, August 20, 6 pm–Friday, August 21, 6 pm ).
A stunning part of the show is Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Golden) (1995). The installation consists of golden beaded curtains that can be found along three different rotundas. The curtains reveal the story of Gonzales-Torres battle with AIDS, meant to symbolize the passage to another state from private to public, life to death, or light into darkness. We walked through the curtain and stood to look back and watch everything on the other side continue to move around and view the previous works. Isolated on the other side, we felt as if we had disappeared into the exhibit, for even just a moment.
Storylines will also have a film program on Fridays (June 5, 12, 19, 11– 4 pm) in the New Media Theater . Screenings include Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), John Bock’s Dandy (2006), Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue (2013), and Ryan Trecartin’s I-Be Area (2007). Barney’s “The CREMASTER Cycle” series will be screening Saturdays (June 6, July 11, August 8, September 5, 10:30 am–7:30 pm in the Peter B. Lewis Theater) . You can find more details here.